With one of the most critical Election Days in history coming up this Tuesday, Baltimore-based rock band Last Kiss Goodnight has released their latest single, “Forty Five” as a beckoning call. Originally penned back in 2018 in the wake of political unrest and revolution, the song not only addresses our 45th President specifically, but the political system as a whole.
Composed of band members Dan Stroud (lead and rhythm guitar), Robert Lasky (drums), Carlo Pizzaro (lead and rhythm guitar), Kevin Baker (bass guitar) and Ray Patricks (lead vocals), Last Kiss Goodnight strives to use music to relay important messages.
The band’s latest single employs the traditional punk rock style of combating political systems and dominant ideology. Opening the tune with heavy guitar riffs, Last Kiss Goodnight bursts out with “We don’t believe a word you say/We don’t believe the lies you’re selling” in throaty vocals that pack a punch to the listener. The song is a definite and unapologetic wake up call, stressing distrust of our current government and encouraging listeners to change their worlds. Having been released just weeks before Election Day, the song aims to inspire American listeners to vote on their values.
The track is aided by powerful visuals in the “Forty Five” music video, which Patricks himself, directed. In a compilation of videos, ranging from found footage of political protests to a young child fighting in a wrestling ring, the contrasting visuals serve to provide a powerful message about the importance of exercising our Democratic right to choose our own government.
“Forty Five,” is set to be one of five songs on Last Kiss Goodnight’s upcoming 2021 EP long pause.
We got a chance to catch up with the lead singer Ray Patricks to chat about their history, songwriting process, politics in music, and much more.
So how long has Last Kiss Goodnight been playing, and how did y’all come together?
Collectively, we have been together since November 2018. Dan and Robert had been working together for a few months before the band had been fully established as Last Kiss Goodnight. Dan and Robert found each through an ad on an internet forum. I think Carlo also answered the same ad and they all three started jamming. Robert had known Kevin Baker (bassist) for years and called him up and told him about the group. In the mid 90s Kevin and Robert were in a band called Live Alien Broadcast. Kevin was interested not only because he and Robert had known each other but also because Kevin really like the demos that he heard. I was the last to join. I actually flew out in November of 2018 from Washington state to audition for the group. And the rest is “Rock n’ Roll!”
What is the first thing that new listeners should know about Last Kiss Goodnight?
I think people will get a sense of nostalgia with a modernized flare when they listen to our music. That’s the way it was intended. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel… we’re trying to do the thing that we do best which is make rock music.
Who or what inspires you to write the songs that you write?
We have a lot of influences. When you listen to our music, you can hear them. But I believe that we stay true to ourselves by not wearing those influences too loudly on our sleeves. There are also a lot of personal influences (i.e. stories, relationships, life happenings) that helped to create and write the songs that are heard on Immortal (2019) and our up and coming EP (2021) long pause. (Note: the title to the EP is lower case)
How does the songwriting process work within the band?
It’s a very organic and organized process. Some songs start out as ideas that were kicked around for some time. And others seem to fall on-the-spot. For the most part, Dan Stroud (guitarist) writes 90 percent of the music in his studio. Then he brings it to the band to flush out the arrangements. I will then write the lyrics and vocal melodies after that bed of music has been made. But sometimes, that order will go backwards. Just depends on everyone’s mood.
What is the most challenging part of trying to create meaningful music? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part is making something that not only we enjoy playing and listening to, but creating something that other people will enjoy hearing too. Fans are bands’ and musicians’ best critics. But we also have to love what we are doing.
The most rewarding part is hearing a story about someone relating to the song or songs (on any of our albums) that has a positive or meaningful impact on him or her. And then, of course, getting to meet the people that our music inspires.
Just last week, you released the music video for your latest single “Forty Five,” which is steeped in politics. Do you recall the exact moment that triggered the writing of this song?
I think the lyrics to the song had been building in me since the beginning of 2018. It was interesting to watch what was happening to our country when the change of power between parties occurred in 2017. But as our country’s climate became more of a media circus, I think the idea to write something meaningful began to spawn in me. I became angry about most of the things that were taking place within our country’s government. And within these last few months, I have wanted to scream at certain political groups and social groups. I wanted to scream “WAKE THE FUCK UP!” And I figured what better way to do that than with music. Hence “Forty Five.”
The song is not just about a person, but about the political and social climates. But we in no way set out to take a political stand or make a political statement as a band. We have no intention to morph into a politically-charged group. The world already has a few of those. And…well… we are just not that type of band. But as the months flew by and tensions in our country grew and grew, we felt it appropriate to have a opinion about where our country was and is going. The main purpose of our song “Forty Five” is to raise awareness and highlight the blind perspective on voting in our country.
The video includes a compilation of many different clips. Where did y’all film it, and what was the idea behind it?
The inspiration for the video came from Bob Dylan’s video “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” We felt the feel of Dylan’s video was the type of grassroots concept needed for the message we wanted to get across. “VOTE!”
We filmed most of it right outside of our rehearsal space in Baltimore, MD.
Is “Forty Five” set to be part of a larger project, or a stand alone single for now?
“Forty Five”is to be included in our up-and-coming 2021 EP release long pause. It will be one of five songs on the EP.
Who else was involved in the track and video’s production?
I did most of the directing and all of the editing for the video. Not a lot of people know this about me, but I have a degree in film and video production. So the band utilizes my skill set any chance we get.
With Election Day coming up next week, “Forty Five” addresses the current political climate. How would you say the political climate affects your art, and is it at a fever pitch this year especially?
We hope that our art affects the political climate and not the other way around. We hope that our art encourages those people who weren’t thinking about voting to vote!
The song “Forty Five” was written in 2018. Were we excited to release it? Yes.
Do we have impeccable timing? Yes!
But the message of the song and video is of extreme importance to most of us in the band.
What messages do you hope to spread with your music?
The message that is interpreted by the individual. Music can mean so many things to so many different people. It can invoke many different emotions, thoughts, or feelings. We hope our music changes with the times. We also hope that it stays the same. We hope that it encapsulates a moment for each individual that hears it and touches. We hope that our music will remain as timeless as the ones who inspired us to write, create and perform it.